THE WAITING GAME - July 2016
My football career ended at Wembley. 17th May 2014 to be precise. Being on the losing side in an FA Cup Final is not the way I wanted to end my career but that's football. My goal to put Hull 2-0 ahead will always stay with me but the Arsenal fight back was hard to take, we deserved more but after 120 minutes that was it, my playing days had ended.
My career had been everything I had wanted it to be. I was released by Manchester United when I was 16, I had been part of the youth team that featured Beckham, Butt, Neville and Scholes but was forgotten member of the Class of 92, one season short of becoming a United legend.
When I left United I didn't think I had a career but Dave Jones and Stockport County took a gamble on me, my first professional club and the late Danny Bergara my first manager. He hated me at first but eventually I won him over and my time at Edgeley Park was enjoyable. Even after Danny was sacked and Dave Jones took over I started to feel I could play at the top flight.
I made over 200 appearances for County over the next 6 years, including 2 trips to Wembley, although we lost both games. The 96/97 season was the highlight though, we got to the Semi Finals of the League Cup and won promotion to the Championship, in the summer Dave Jones moved to Southampton and wanted to take me too but the club couldn't agree a fee and I had to stay.
New manager Gary Megson made it very clear he didn't want me though and was desperate to sell me for decent money. I was amazed when I was told where I was going, in need of decent young English players I was off to Chelsea, Gianluca Vialli paying £2m for my services.
London was daunting but I tried me best, my football was good and on 11th February 1998 I made my debut for England, Glenn Hoddle handing me my first cap at Wembley against Chile. I was part of the squad that went to France that summer but only played a bit part in the tournament.
I was quite enjoying the London life but that all changed in September 1999, I was called to the managers office and he told me the club had accepted a bid of £4.5m for me, I spoke to my agent and travelled to North London Hotel, I walked into the hotel bar and was greeted by Sir Bobby Robson, "Welcome to the best football club in the world son".
My career with the Toon Army was a dream come true, I made 398 appearances, scored 30 goals and became a fans favourite, I settled down with my wife and kids and never wanted to leave before Mike Ashley and Alan Pardew forced me out of the club.
During my time I made some great friends, no more so than the Gaffer, Sir Bobby taught me so much and he ignited my fire to become a football manager.
I ended my career with spells at Huddersfield with my old mate Lee Clark, Blackpool and finally Hull.
Games: 978 (90 caps for England)
Goals: 121 (9 for England)
Honours: PFA Young Player of the Year: Winner 1999, PFA Team of the Year: Premier League x 4, League One x 1
After stopping playing I spend the next 2 year studying hard for my coaching badges, I was fast-tracked by the FA and UEFA after outstanding results. Now I am ready to be a Football Manager, my ambition to manage my beloved Newcastle United and emulate the career of my mentor and hero, the late, great Sir Bobby Robson.